Mon, 15 Aug 1994

Independence Day celebrations bring cheer to Jakartans

By Meidyatama Suryodiningrat

JAKARTA (JP): In the increasingly tumultuous bustle of city life, the annual activities of the Aug. 17 Independence Day celebrations provide a welcomed respite for many Jakarta residents.

"There's no other day which can compete with the gaiety of the independence celebrations, not even Lebaran or New Year's Eve," Mahwani Yacub, the wife of the RT 04 neighborhood unit chief in Rempoa subdistrict, South Jakarta told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

Each year, neighborhoods throughout the city hold various activities, ranging from sporting events and community work to free entertainment shows, creating a carnival like atmosphere in the run-up to the auspicious date.

"Everybody is involved ... my husband and his friends, the housewives like myself, along with the youngsters," Mahwani remarked, adding that the festivities help boost the community's sense of togetherness.

Governor Surjadi Soedirdja himself just this past week called on everyone in the capital to participate in celebrating Independence Day.

Through Gubernatorial Instruction No. 270/1994, Surjadi ordered municipal offices, all the way down to the subdistrict levels, to beautify their areas with flags and colorful banners.

"Let's seize this moment in Jakarta to promote a sense of national unity," Surjadi said.

He asked that people of all levels of society, whether they are in the subdistricts or high-rise buildings, to actively participate by decorating their areas and holding constructive activities.

"I can't believe people in high-rise buildings, who are mostly rich, can't afford to celebrate the occasion, while the people in kampongs can," the governor remarked.

Following the governor's instructions, neighborhood leaders began to collect funding for various activities some months ago.


"We ask people for donations when we collect the monthly neighborhood fee. They're usually very cooperative and understanding," said Rusli Bachtiar, head of the RT 03 neighborhood unit in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta.

He said that each year between Rp 500,000 to Rp 700,000 is collected to construct a colorful portal at the mouth of the street and to hang colorful ribbons, banners and flags along the fences.

Some of the money also goes to buy prizes for the winners of the adult and children's games put on to celebrate Independence Day.

A similar thing happens at the Pancoran Mas Permai estate in Depok where the 200 families living there contribute at least Rp 7,000 each.

As part of their activities, the people in this community gather together to tidy-up their neighborhood.

Besides the community sports competitions, the total budget of Rp 1.4 million is spent on a roast mutton dinner for all the residents of the complex on the night of Aug. 17.


At the 07 neighborhood in Pondok Karya, which is located at the border of the South Jakarta mayoralty and the Tangerang township, residents take a slightly different approach to their community work.

"We hire the less privileged people who live around the area to help us with the community work. They're better at it and also more effective because they do a better job," said Samad, a member of the local Karang Taruna youth organization.

He said that the youth also help in cleaning up the neighborhood but much of the heavy work is done by the hired men.

Samad said that the activities, organized by the local youth, are always very popular with the people.

"Especially the children's games, the young ones look forward to these, so even if we are a little short of funds we always have them for the kids," he said.

Samad also said that sometimes residents were being asked to donate white or black paint so that the road curbs can be nicely colored.

"Usually at around Aug. 17 there is an open air theater at a nearby complex ... that draws crowds from all around," Samad said.

Asmariyah, the RT 03 neighborhood unit chief in Rempoa, has even donated Rp 100,000 from her own pursue in order to help the planned celebration.

"I've found that the festivities are the most exhilarating time in the whole year. The people in this neighborhood are never absent in taking part."